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Denmark probes mystery object near Nord Stream pipelines

March 24, 2023

Denmark plans to recover an object found near the previously sabotaged pipelines. Russia has said it is important to establish what it is, noting any investigation must be transparent.

An aerial view of gas bubling to the surface of the Baltic Sea after the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines burst as a result of multiple explosions in September 2022
The Nord Stream pipelines were the target of suspected sabotage in September, when they spewed gas into the Baltic SeaImage: Handout/Airbus DS 2022/AFP

Danish authorities have contacted the owners of the Nord Stream pipelines after discovering a mysterious object placed directly next to it on the seabed.

The pipeline, which was built to carry Russian gas to Europe, was previously targeted in a suspected attack several months after Russia's February 24, 2022, invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

What we know so far

On Thursday, the Danish Energy Agency released a photo of a cylindrical object, saying it may simply be a maritime smoke buoy that "does not pose an immediate safety risk."

"With a view to further clarifying the nature of the object, Danish authorities have decided to salvage the object with assistance from the Danish Defense," the agency said in a statement, adding that it was waiting for a response from pipeline operators before commencing its efforts.

A photograph released by the Danish Energy Agency showing an unidentified object near the Nord Stream pipeline on the bed of the Baltic Sea
Denmark says the object may pose no risk, Moscow claims it could be an explosive deviceImage: Danish Defence Command/Handout via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously announced the discovery of the 40-centimeter (16-inch) tall object with a diameter of 10 centimeters (4 inches) earlier this month, saying Russian experts suspected it of being an explosive signal device.

The Kremlin on Friday said it was important to establish what exactly the object is and called for a transparent investigation. "It's certainly positive news when the owner of the pipeline is invited to take part in very important phases of the investigation," said Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Currently, German, Swedish and Danish authorities are carrying out an investigation into the  September explosions that damaged the pipelines, spewing large amounts of gas from both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 lines into the Baltic Sea. 

It remains unclear who may have been behind the original attack.

The majority stake in the twin pipelines is held by Russian energy giant Gazprom, the remaining shares are owned by Dutch, French and German companies.

js/rc (AFP, Reuters)